The fat transfer procedure is a simple three-step process of removing fat from one area of the body and purifying it, then injecting the fat cells into the target site. Fat transfer results are usually noticeable immediately after the procedure and can last several months or years, or even permanently.
Preparing for the Fat Transfer Procedure
A fat transfer procedure performed alone (that is, not with another procedure such as extensive body contouring) is usually done with local anesthesia only, not general anesthesia that would put the patient to sleep. Some physicians may also offer an oral sedative for patients who are more apprehensive, but this isn’t usually needed. The type and amount of anesthesia depend in part on the amount of liposuction and fat transfer you require, which will be determined by your doctor.
A fat transfer procedure can usually be performed as an outpatient procedure at your cosmetic surgeon’s office. You should avoid the use of blood thinners such as ibuprofen (Motrin® and Advil®), aspirin, and Naprosyn® for two weeks before the fat transfer procedure. Since there’s no risk of an allergic reaction to your own fat cells, there’s no need for pre-procedure allergy testing.
Recovery and Results – What to Expect
Once your fat transfer is complete, you may have some slight swelling and/or bruising at the donor site or the target site(s) on your face. The swelling can be expected to go away in a few days, and any discomfort you feel can be controlled with pain medication. As with all medical procedures, you should follow all postoperative instructions from your cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. Many patients return to their normal daily activities within hours or a day or two of the fat transfer procedure.
You can expect fat transfer results that are immediately apparent or that will be clear after any swelling has receded. A significant benefit of this technique is that the results generally last much longer than the results of other dermal fillers such as Restylane®, collagen injections, and Juvéderm®. Individual fat transfer results definitely vary, but with a properly performed procedure, the results may last for years, or even permanently.
Risks and Benefits
Facial fat sculpting offers several major benefits. In addition to correcting problems of the aging face, autologous fat transfer is natural. The material used is not from an animal, or a cadaver, or a synthetic product. It’s also versatile; the fat can be used for many facial imperfections, including scars and depressions in the skin. The effects of facial fat sculpting are very long-lasting — facial fat injections last significantly longer than cosmetic injectables such as collagen, Restylane®, and Juvéderm. And facial fat sculpting is safe, since there are no allergic reactions to worry about, because the fat transplantation is from your own body.
Microlipoinjection is also an excellent complement to facial resurfacing procedures, such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels, and to BOTOX® Cosmetic injections and Lipodissolve™ on the chin.
The risks of fat transfer/fat injection are few and minimal. Soreness and swelling are possible, but they’re not commonly experienced. One should consider all of the risks and benefits of fat transfer before undergoing treatment.
If you are interested in undergoing fat transfer, you probably have a fair number of questions that haven’t yet been addressed on this page. The following are some of the questions many patients have about the procedure. For answers to your specific questions, schedule a consultation with a qualified doctor in your area.